Plans for a flagship school building project in Argyll and Bute will take a significant step forward next month.
On August 1, the 12-week pre-application consultation (PAC) will kick off for the proposed primary joint campus serving the Dunoon and Kirn area, signalling the start of the statutory planning process.
The proposal involves amalgamating the area’s three primary schools – Dunoon, Kirn and St Mun’s – and associated nurseries into one new-build primary campus under the Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland’s Schools for the Future’ programme.
The outline business case for the project, which recommended the current Kirn Primary School site as the preferred location for the new campus, was approved in February this year.
Argyll and Bute Council is now launching the first part of its bid to secure planning permission for the project.
PAC is a statutory process through which an applicant is obliged to go in advance of submitting any formal planning bid for a development of ‘national’ or ‘major’ significance.
During the 12-week period, the council will carry out a programme of consultation with communities and other stakeholders.
This is in addition to the planning consultation period which will take place once the formal application has been submitted to planners.
At some stage in the future, the council will also undertake a separate education consultation process in respect of the proposed amalgamation of the schools, which will seek people’s views on the educational aspects of the proposal.
Argyll and Bute Council leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “The purpose of PAC is to ensure that communities are well informed about major development proposals and have an opportunity to contribute their views before a formal application is submitted.
“In the case of this proposal, we have already had significant engagement with the local community at every level, and their feedback has been fed into the process at every stage.
“We are working very hard to make sure that people in Dunoon, Kirn and the surrounding area understand they are a vital part of this process, and that their views will be taken account of as the project progresses.”
Councillor Walsh stressed that the £13million proposal was a major investment in Dunoon’s education, and an exciting solution to the question of how best to provide high quality education facilities to meet the learning needs of our children.
“Evidence from similar new-build projects across Scotland, including here in Argyll and Bute, supports the evidence that learning and teaching are significantly boosted if they take place in modern, state of the art facilities,” he added.
“We look forward to receiving people’s initial views on the campus proposals over the next 12 weeks, after which we intend to draw up a formal planning application.”
The consultation already undertaken by the council includes organising for Architecture and Design Scotland to hold 14 sessions with staff and pupils at the schools and nurseries involved, which together were attended by more than 500 people. The outcome of these sessions has formed an integral part of the project and is included in the design brief for the new campus.
Following that initial consultation, the council formed a Champion’s Group consisting of 25 staff, pupils and parents from the affected schools. That group has so far attended seven workshops, the outcomes of which have been used as a basis to inform the project brief for the new campus.
In addition, the group has been on three school visits, including to the very successful joint campus in Oban.
From August 1, details of the PAC and of how people can submit their comments will be found on the council’s website at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk.